Pioneering New House Building Model To Be Considered
30th July 2010
Highland Councillors are being asked to consider investigating the feasibility of a pioneering new model of providing much-needed affordable homes in the Highlands.
It could see a new build programme of 650 houses over a five year period.
The idea is for the Council to work with a private sector partner to release the equity currently tied up in its Council houses. As houses become vacant they would transfer to the private sector partner in return for a capital payment. The capital would be used to build new houses for let as Council tenancies.
A key point to note is that the Council would continue to allocate, manage and maintain the stock, based on agreed fees per unit to be paid to the council by the partner.
The transferred houses would be relet to applicants on the Highland Housing Register at rent levels pitched between the average council rent and private rents, currently estimated at £75 per week (charged over 52 weeks). The average council rent for the current financial year is £59.76 (over 52 weeks).
Properties would revert to Council ownership at nil cost after 25 years.
Councillor Margaret Davidson, Chairman of the Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, said: "This is an interesting proposition that has come forward from our Housing and Property management team, which allows the Council to release equity on the asset value of council housing becoming vacant to relet to generate funds for new council house building. We estimate this could number 650 over a five year period, The number could be significantly increased if the Scottish Government continues to provide subsidy for Council house building.
"The Housing and Social Work Committee will be asked to agree to undertake and fund a full feasibility assessment on the equity release model as a means to deliver additional affordable housing in the Highlands. We would work closely with the Scottish Government in developing the model.
"We would then come back to the Committee with a detailed business case."
She stressed that addressing the shortage of affordable housing in the Highlands is one of the Council's key priorities.
She added: "Strengthening the Highlands" has a target of 2,000 new affordable homes by 2011. We are on target to meet this commitment, but have identified ongoing high levels of demand for additional housing for rent beyond 2011. Successive Local Housing Strategies have identified the need for additional housing supply as the main strategic issue in relation to housing."
The Highland Council has awarded a contract to A & W Sinclair for the delivery of environmental improvement works at Dunnet Bay and Dunnet Head. Work on site will commence week beginning 15th February 2016 and is scheduled for completion by the middle of April.
Following the second call for candidates wishing to serve on Highland Community Councils to come forward - a total of 19 Councils attracted sufficient interest to form a new Council. The uncontested community councils in the second round are: â€¢Ardgay Community Council â€¢Arisaig and District Community Council â€¢Balintore and Hilton Community Council â€¢Ballifer Community Council â€¢Bower Community Council â€¢Coigach Community Council â€¢Conon Bridge Community Council â€¢Dulnain Bridge Community Council â€¢Inver Community Council â€¢Kiltarlity Community Council â€¢Kinlochleven Community Council â€¢Kyle Community Council â€¢Lochardil and Drummond Community Council â€¢Morvern Community Council â€¢Muirtown Community Council â€¢Raasay Community Council â€¢Sinclairs Bay Community Council â€¢Strathpeffer Comunity Council â€¢West Ardnamurchan Community Council.
For the first time the Highland Community Planning Partnership have endorsed a Development Plan published by The Highland Council and have agreed to working with the Council in monitoring its delivery. The Proposed Caithness and Sutherland Local Development Plan (CaSPlan), was published for consultation on 22 January 2016 and will run until 18 March 2016.
The Councils Community Services Committee has approved an additional programme of Â£2.7 million for the coming year 2016/17. Â£2.3 million will be allocated this coming year to re-surfacing, surface dressing and road markings across the Highland network and Â£0.4 million to bridges in Sutherland (Kylesku) and Lochaber (A884 Achnagavin).
Highland Council has invited tenders for a contract for a summer ferry service between Cromarty and Nigg. The previous operator terminated the service contract just before the start of the 2015 season due to difficulties with sandbanks building up off the slipways and berthing arrangements.
Council house rents will be limited to a 1.9% rise in order to maintain current service levels. This will mean an increase in the average weekly council rent of Â£1.35 for all Housing Revenue Account (HRA) rents.
New standards have been set out for grass-cutting across the Council area to meet statutory requirements and achieve savings. There is no statutory requirement that amenity grass must be cut, however, the Council has various duties to maintain public safety, deliver education in accordance to national standards, deliver a burial service, maintain roads and paths in a safe condition and support national play initiatives.
The Highland Council has awarded Â£1.128 million to Community Transport schemes across the Highlands, spread over the next 3 years. This allocation allows Â£376,000 of grants to be made available to the listed community groups and organisations each year for the next 3 years, which enables some certainty in the medium term for these initiatives.
The Highland Council is preparing for the implementation of a Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) Scheme this year. Remedial works have started, which includes sign and road markings replacement across the council to support of our Application to Transport Scotland for DPE authority.
Highland Council Leader, Councillor Margaret Davidson said: The option to raise council tax in Highland has been taken away from us. We have been informed, if we raise Council Tax, we will be fined not just the 3% we expected but also other sanctions will be applied around teacher numbers and funding for social care.
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